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Important Changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV)

Important Changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) and Residence Pathways

The New Zealand government has implemented significant changes to the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) program, effective since April 7, 2024.


Changes for Existing AEWV Holders

  • Maximum Stay: The maximum length of stay for some roles may be reduced. If your ANZSCO level 4 or 5 job application was submitted before June 21, 2023, and meets specific criteria, you may not be eligible for the previous five-year maximum stay. Exceptions include roles on the Green List, those with pathways to residence, or earning 1.5 times the median wage.
  • Future AEWVs: Applications submitted on or after April 7, 2024, will be subject to the new criteria, potentially impacting your total stay duration.


Changes for New AEWV Applicants

  • Skill and Qualification Requirements

Increased work experience (minimum 3 years) or relevant qualifications (NZQCF level 4 or above) are now mandatory, unless a role is on the Green List (meeting specific requirements) or pays at least twice the median wage. Evidence (including International Qualification Assessment for qualifications below Bachelor’s degree) will be required.

  • English Language Requirement

Applicants for ANZSCO level 4 or 5 roles must demonstrate English proficiency (speaking and understanding). This does not apply to current applications or dependents of applicants.

  • Shorter Visa Lengths

For some ANZSCO level 4 or 5 jobs (except those on the Green List, in transport and care sectors, or pathways to residence, or earning 1.5 times the median wage), the maximum initial visa validity is reduced to two years, with a potential one-year extension through a new Job Check. The total time to stay in New Zealand on AEWVs is capped at three years, requiring a twelve-month absence before reapplying.


Changes for Employers

  • Stricter Accreditation Requirements

Employers must take more rigorous steps to ensure migrant qualifications and skills before offering a job and throughout the accreditation period. This includes verifying applicants meet the new minimum skill requirement.

  • Minimum Work Hours

Employers are now obligated to provide a minimum of 30 hours of work per week to AEWV migrant workers. Failure to do so can result in accreditation revocation.

  • Expanded Accreditation Suspension Grounds

Accreditation can be suspended for employers under active investigation for any accreditation breach, whereas previously it only applied to specific breaches.

  • ANZSCO Skill Levels

Job Checks and accreditations will utilize the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) skill level system.

  • Suitable New Zealanders

A definition of “suitable and available New Zealanders” is established. Employers must demonstrate no applicants met this definition before a Job Check can be approved. This involves advertising the job for 21 days, engaging with Work and Income, and justifying why suitable New Zealand applicants were not hired.

  • Reporting Migrant Job Departures

Employers must notify Immigration New Zealand within ten working days if an AEWV worker leaves their employment a month or more before visa expiry.

  • Franchisee Accreditation Changes

Franchisee accreditation will cease later in 2024. Franchisee employers can apply for alternative accreditation categories.


Modifications to Residence Pathways

The government also announced adjustments to planned additions for the Green List and the Construction and Infrastructure Sector Agreement. The Work to Residence pathway specifically designed for bus and truck drivers will be closed to new applicants who are not already employed or haven’t applied for a qualifying role.

Migrant high school graduates awaiting the outcome of a family residence application will soon be granted work authorisation. This change is expected to take effect by mid-2024, with detailed information forthcoming closer to the implementation date.


For any questions regarding this updates or any further immigration matters, please contact Arno Nothnagel, our NZ Immigration Director

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